Happily Even After
A Matter of Perspective
by Stacey Noem
I think the older we get the more we realize that life is not entirely black and white. In fact we are faced with a whole lot of grey situations.
Case in point: our recent Fourth of July family vacation. A whole lot went wrong, but there sure were a lot of opportunities to look for what was going right. Here are two ways of looking at each of our “unique opportunities.”
Perspective one: Smashing two totally different experiences (beach getaway and camping trip) into one outing is not a good idea. Packing a family of five for BOTH a camping trip AND a beach vacation significantly pushes the limits of what our vehicle can comfortably accommodate. There was no room to play with. Also, when we were at the campsite we were annoyed by the beach toys we had packed; and when we were at the timeshare we were frustrated with the tents and sleeping bags that we no longer needed.
Perspective two: A coworker generously offered us two nights for our family at a timeshare on the Washington State coast. We took the opportunity to tag on an extra night camping in a national forest we had been wanting to see. We got to enjoy some of the great outdoors and then have two nights of a little luxury.
Perspective one: We went camping, had a microscopic campsite and it rained all night.
Perspective two: Even though we arrived at our campsite later in the evening, there was plenty of light and time to set up camp and take a walk on the nearby beach. Oscar built one of the best campfires I have ever seen (and it may have been the very first time he has even tried). I made two of the best s’mores I have ever eaten. We all got ready for bed, snuggled in and zipped up before the rain started. We were dry all night in our tents and the rain stopped in time for breakfast in the morning.
Perspective one: A deer tried to take out our car, leaving an enormous dent in the rear passenger door.
Perspective two: As we were entering a sleepy Washington coast town we got to see a little wild life up close and personally. Unexpectedly, an otherwise docile deer walking along the side of the road, suddenly decided to try to jump through Simon’s door (we think it must have wanted his goldfish crackers). It was pretty funny until we saw the damage when we got to the grocery store. Then it was funny again after we took a toilet plunger to the dent and actually pulled almost the whole thing out. Now THAT is a memory maker!
Perspective one: This is an icky tourist trap of a town with really dirty beaches, really bad traffic control, and far too much wind to be comfortable even when it is clear and sunny.
Perspective two: Our room is full of amazing luxuries, it is sunnier than it has been all summer, and our coworker and her family welcomed us with dinner and passes to the local heated pool.
Perspective one: Some vacation. We are uncomfortable and fairly far from home.
Perspective two: We have great adventures together as a family even when we are uncomfortable and fairly far from home. Nothing says we have to stay in a less than ideal situation. Let’s go home.
So that’s what we did. We left a night early and got to see close to ten different fireworks shows as we drove through towns on the interstate. It was magical. At least from my perspective. And sometimes that is all it takes in family life. Same objective reality but a little shift in mindset and “profane” turns into “sacred.”
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